Estate Planning Software – what is it and is it worth the investment?
What is Estate Planning Software?
Estate planning software is highly specialised software that is used by Private Client Solicitors and professional Will Writers to automate the administration involved in preparing Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and more.
How does Estate Planning Software Work?
Estate planning software follows a sensible step-by-step process, utilising a questionnaire style format. Data is entered once and, depending on the information provided, the system automatically updates areas of the document you’re creating.
It’s a Cloud based solution, which means it can be accessed from anywhere at any time and uses the latest security protocols. It’s often used to create a Will pack containing a selection of the following documents:
- Discretionary Trusts
- Testamentary Trusts
- Powers of Attorney
- Severance of Joint Tenancy
- Advance Decisions
- Letters of Wishes
A built-in, editable precedent bank and the software itself are monitored by a Legal Advisory Board, supporting best practice efforts. The ability to brand and style documents helps drive consistency across not only wording, but also look and feel.
Is it Worth the Investment?
Estate planning software is relatively cheap, and users can typically get a return on investment from the savings in billable hours that the software provides.
For example, if you draft 50 Wills per month, 50% of which are simple (and therefore take less time to draft). And assuming you pay your drafters roughly £35,000 per annum, you could save roughly 31 hours per month (that’s almost 4 days a month) on administrative work.
But it’s not just the financial benefits and time savings that make it worth the investment. It also drives consistency, supports a cleaner peer review process, and enhances collaboration, it empowers junior lawyers to work more independently and removes boring tasks from employee workloads. It also helps to turn documents around faster, keeping clients happy and engaged in the process.
It also digitises your estate planning department, meaning you can integrate your estate planning software with your case management software and other solutions. Which creates further process efficiencies and offers better document control.
So, if you want to grow your department for a small investment or indeed try and reduce costs, estate planning software can help you achieve your goals.
Common Pitfalls to Watch Out For
When choosing your estate planning software, it’s often worth looking at the capability of the software, question if it can handle complex cases and the level of distribution it can go to. Consider a complex case you resolved recently, could it help you administer the documents for that case?
Look to see if they have an ‘API’ too. This means you’ll have more flexibility when it comes to integrating your estate planning software with other systems you might use across your offices.
It’s also worth keeping a look out for hidden fees, some providers charge for updates, training, and access to support teams. It’s a good idea to get a good understanding of the services available and if they cost extra.
Compliance is worth considering too, not just legal, but also security. It’s a good idea to ask how the providers you’re comparing keep their software up to date with regards to legal best practice and security compliance.
Another area to be aware of is the software providers implementation experience. Do they have a robust implementation strategy and who will support you in rolling it out, will you have a point of contact at the company?
Implementation is often a worry for many taking on new software, as it takes time to onboard team members, which takes away from other business as usual priorities. Having a contact and working with a company that has a tried and tested roll out plan will help you deploy your new system as efficiently as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to review their reputation. You can often find case studies and testimonials on their website.